What does 2017 hold for the broadcast industry?
We are now a few weeks into 2017, and like many in the broadcast industry, the Nevion team has been considering what we can be expecting for the coming year.
True IP deployment
2016 was the year that saw the broadcast industry realizing the benefits that come with IP, but 2017 will be the year of true IP adoption. As many broadcasters look to build new studios over the next few years, there’s never been a better time for them to decide against baseband infrastructures and opt for a greenfield IP deployment.
The first IP routers that could handle media flows deterministically came out in 2003, but we now have the sufficient technology and knowledge to take advantage of them from a broadcast perspective. There are still minor challenges in terms of performance and scalability, but by leveraging the experience of the IT industry and looking towards commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) options, they can be overcome.
The maturity of network switch fabric
Talking of challenges being overcome, there are a number of switch fabric releases planned for 2017 that will enable us to take significant steps towards improving scalability and performance in broadcast.
With more organisations opting for greenfield IP deployments, they need to think carefully about the network architecture. IP should be seen as IP, not as a replacement for baseband, and we need to think about exactly how an IP network can benefit broadcasters. Therefore, we need to move away from traditional methods and forge new paths. And the next item is a very important point in that context.
The revolutionary LAN/WAN convergence
The blurring of distinction between LAN and WAN is one of the biggest potential benefits of IP. Suddenly, the limitation of live production is no longer the length of a coaxial cable, but latency. This means that, with the right network architecture, live productions can be spread over considerable geographic distances.
This has the potential to revolutionise production workflows. Control rooms could to handle many studios, regional studios could become extensions of central facilities and equipment could be shared more easily. Expect plenty of LAN/WAN discussion in 2017.
Standards, 4K and virtualization
The importance of this topical trio is only set to grow over the next year. For standards, SMPTE 2110 will still be key, but there will be a strong focus on elements associated with SMPTE 2110, such as the work Networked Media Open Standards (NMOS) is doing on registration, discovery and connection of IP devices in a studio environment.
No discussion of the broadcast industry would be complete without 4K. It’s popping up everywhere thanks to TV manufacturers, but there are still some inherent challenges for broadcasters, not least when it comes to the smooth delivery of such bandwidth-sapping content. Broadcasters also have to consider how they can combine 4K with other popular innovations like High Dynamic Range (HDR) and higher frame rates in order to keep consumers happy.
Finally, as broadcasters continue to do more with fewer resources, there’s no doubt that virtualization will remain a hot topic. Enabled by the move to IP, virtualization streamlines operations and makes them more cost-effective. It’s still in its infant stages, but its set to transform the broadcast industry in the same way it did to IT.